Flows of Power: The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, 1546-1831


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




A series of military campaigns between Anatolia and Iraq during the early sixteenth century brought the entirety of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers under the Ottoman Empire’s institutional control. From its dominant position over a unified drainage basin, Istanbul sought to harness the energy and resources of the twin rivers for its security and economic needs through a complex network of forts, canals, bridges, and shipyards. This project explores the concerted imperial effort at water control and its paradoxical consequences. The same rivers that allowed the Ottomans to cement their presence in the east exposed them to the hydrologic instabilities of floods, droughts, and channel shifts. Placing natural streams at the center of analysis, this study reveals intimate bonds between valley and mountain, nature and culture in the early modern world.